Armenian leopards win vote


This video from Armenia says about itself:

Caucasian Leopard in the Caucaus Wildlife Refuge – Daytime

29 August 2013

Camera-trap footage of a Caucasian Leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor), from WLT’s Armenian partner FPWC (Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets).

Further proof of the leopard‘s presence in the CWR and FPWC’s successful conservation work.

From Wildlife Extra:

Saving Armenia’s leopard wins £25,000 grant

The World Land Trust’s project, Saving Armenia’s Leopard – has won a grant of £25,000 from National Geographic Germany. In an online poll organised by the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) during the second half of March 2014, more than 52,000 votes were cast for 17 conservation projects all vying for funding.

WLT’s conservation partner in Armenia, Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC) will use the grant (approximately £25,000) to preserve habitat for the endangered caucasian leopard.

This sub species of leopard is registered as Endangered on the IUCN Red List and has a total population of no more than 1,300. The caucasian leopard’s stronghold is in Iran, where it is known as the Persian Leopard, but in Armenia there may be as few as 15 individuals remaining.

FPWC will use the grant to strengthen existing research and monitoring of this little studied and endangered predator. Funds will also be used to restore degraded mountainsides with a programme to plant 4,000 trees and to develop sustainable tourism initiatives with local communities.

Thanking all supporters, Ruben Khachatryan, FPWC’s founding Director, said: “Community development is a crucial cornerstone in our effort to protect the Caucasian Leopard. In Armenia most villages located in remote mountainous areas suffer from extreme poverty, triggering illegal logging for firewood on steep mountain slopes, over collection of wild edible crops, unsustainable livestock grazing and, of course, poaching. These human activities destroy the habitat of the Caucasian Leopard and many other rare species.

“FPWC’s Rural Eco-tourism programme – as well as the reforestation measures – addresses these problems and we are more than happy that the grant will help us not only to intensify our research and monitoring of the leopard but also to develop new income opportunities for the local population.”

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Lynx caught on camera in Armenia


This video says about itself:

3 Dec 2013

Camera-trap footage of a Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx), from WLT’s Armenian partner FPWC (Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets).

Further proof of FPWC’s successful conservation work.

From Wildlife Extra:

Lynx caught on camera in Caucasus Wildlife Refuge

December 2013: Fleeting footage of a Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx) has been recorded in the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge in Armenia on a camera-trap funded by World Land Trust (WLT).

The Eurasian Lynx was once quite common in all of Europe but, by the middle of the 19th century, it had disappeared from most countries in Central and Western Europe.

Although registered as a species of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, the sighting is nonetheless significant because numbers of Eurasian Lynx in Armenia have declined, and are now very rarely seen.

The Eurasian Lynx has a short tail, long whiskers on its face, and tufts of black hair on the tips of its ears. Its paws are large and padded, and the legs relatively long, designed for walking through snow. The colouring and markings of its fur varies and can be medium brown, tawny or beige-white, occasionally with dark brown spots.

The Eurasian Lynx lives throughout the mountainous forests of Europe, Russia and Central Asia and is the third largest predator in Europe after the Brown Bear and the Grey Wolf. It is the largest of the lynx species. It is a carnivorous, opportunistic predator, consuming up to two kilograms of meat every day. In the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge the Eurasian Lynx feeds on small mammals such as foxes and rabbits.

The reserve is managed by WLT’s conservation partner in Armenia, the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC).

Caucasian red deer reintroduction in Armenia


This video is called The Caucasian Red Deer.

From Wildlife Extra:

Caucasian Red Deer will be reintroduced in Armenia soon

October 2013. WWF has launched a project to reintroduce the Caucasian Red Deer into Armenia with the aim to set up a breeding group of the species in Dilijan National Park.

The project will include the preparation of a breeding center in Dilijan National Park, the purchase and transportation of 4 male and 11 female deer to Armenia, training of the breeding center staff, keeping and breeding of the animals, and finally release and monitoring in the wild.

“This is an unprecedented project for Armenia as this will be the country’s first reintroduction.” said Karen Manvelyan, the director of WWF Armenia.

Highly Endangered

The Caucasian Red Deer is one of the most endangered wildlife species in the South Caucasus. This species, once largely spread in the forests of Northern, Eastern and Southern Armenia, was disappeared a few decades ago due to poaching and habitat destruction. Now it is considered as a species which accidently enters the territory of Armenia from neighbouring countries.

Currently the Caucasian Red Deer is included in the Red Book of Armenia as “Critically Endangered” according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) criteria.

Leopards in Iran, Armenia and Azerbaijan


This video is called In the Balance: The Caucasus Leopard.

From Wildlife Extra:

Assessing suitable leopard habitat in Iran, Armenia and Azerbaijan

Mapping the Persian leopard habitat connectivity in the Iranian sector of the Caucasus ecoregion

September 2013. Drastic declines in the Persian leopard population in the Middle East and particularly in Caucasus, has attracted attention of researchers and conservationists to the status of this subspecies in the region.

Consequently various countries in the Persian leopard range in the Caucasus have launched an attempt to address the status of leopards in the area. However, the major population of the Persian leopards are known to inhabit in Iran. As a result, leopard status in Iran and particularly in North-west of the country plays an important role in survival of the Persian leopards in the region.

Iran’s Persian leopard project

The three bordering provinces of West Azerbaijan, Ardebil and East Azerbaijan that provide common habitats and corridors between Iran and the neighbouring countries in Caucasus; of these East Azerbaijan province has the longest border line and the most common leopard potential habitats with the two neighbouring countries of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Since April 2012, Department of Environment of Iran together with the East Azarbaijan provincial DoE office and Asian Leopard Specialist Society, embarked on a project to measure the Persian leopard population, potential habitats and corridors in the region, prey status and active threats affecting leopard survival and habitats’ connectivity in the region.

The first phase of the project has been completed recently and resulted in first-hand information on potential leopard habitats and corridors among them as well as active threats in and around critical habitats.

Last chances to keep leopard areas in North-western Iran connected:

East Azarbaijan province, covering an area of 45663 Km² in North-western Iran, was divided to four study zones for field data collection and further analysis.

This study estimates that 27% of the studied region in North-western Iran covering 37 main and distinct habitats could be considered as potential leopard areas. The largest potential habitats with high degree of suitability are mainly located in north of the province bordering with neighbouring countries of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

At the next level, habitats in south east of the province bordering with Ardebil and Zanjan provinces of Iran are the largest leopard potential habitats with most corridors and connections available among them. However, habitats in southern and south western parts of the province are more scattered and isolated. Areas among these habitats are disturbed by various human activities such as the cultivation lands and agriculture, road networks and populated areas.

It is worth mentioning that collaborative research and conservation efforts in countries of the region together with financial and technical contribution of international organizations are essential to ensure the Persian leopard habitat connectivity in transboundary areas.

Next step of the project:

We are in the early stage of the second phase of the Persian leopard project in the borderline habitats in Caucasus ecoregion. In this phase we plan to conduct more detail studies including systematic camera trappings to address population estimates and occupancy status assessments of the leopards and their prey in each identified habitat. We have already purchased equipment required to conduct telemetry studies during the current phase of the project.

The study was conducted by Arezoo Sanei, Executive Director at Asian Leopard Specialist Society, Tehran, Iran; Mohamad Reza Masoud, Senior Wildlife Expert at Department of Environment, East-Azarbaijan Provincial Office; and Hossein Mohammadi General Director, Biodiversity and Wildlife Bureau, Department of the Environment, Tehran, Iran.

Armenian leopard video


This video says about itself:

Caucasian leopard in the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge

July 10, 2013

A tantalising glimpse of a Caucasian Leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor), in camera-trap footage from WLT’s Armenian partner FPWC (Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets).

Further proof of the leopard’s presence in the CWR and FPWC’s successful conservation work.

Wildlife Extra writes about this:

Caucasian leopard caught on camera – just

A tantalising glimpse of a Caucasian Leopard

July 2013. Leopards are elusive animals at the best of times but in the vicinity of the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge (CWR) it has been eight years since one had been seen. If it hadn’t been for traces of hair and a scat found in the CWR and proven to belong to a Caucasian Leopard, we might still be wondering if they really did exist.

As of last week, the World Land Trust came another step nearer to seeing a leopard up close. But the leopards are determined to live up to their elusive reputation and so far have toyed with the watchers by only showing a tail!

Caucasus Wildlife Refuge

The landmark recording was made in July in the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge, which is supported by World Land Trust (WLT) and IUCN-Netherlands. The Caucasus Wildlife Refuge is managed by WLT’s conservation partner in Armenia, the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC).

Manuk Manukyan, FPWC’s Coordinator of Conservation Projects, is one of the few people to have seen a Caucasian Leopard in the wild, being lucky enough to catch sight of one nearly a decade ago. He told WLT: “The leopard is no longer a ghost! We know he (or she) is there and that the habitat is suitable. It is very quiet and there is plenty of prey. We will adjust the cameras and sooner or later we will get pictures of the entire animal.”

Signs of leopard

Since the reserve was created in 2010, FPWC staff – some of them funded by WLT’s Keepers of the Wild programme – have diligently recorded leopard tracks and signs and used this information to locate camera-traps provided by WLT near to where the leopards are thought to roam. At the same time, FPWC staff have made every effort to protect the Caucasian Leopard’s habitat and prey, in particular Bezoar goats, wild boars and Armenian mouflon.

Mary McEvoy, WLT’s Conservation Programmes Manager (Asia and Africa Regions) said: “At last, the efforts of FPWC staff have paid off. The whole WLT office was very excited to see the footage so I can only imagine how elated all at FPWC must be feeling. This is a great moment for wildlife conservation in Armenia.”

Probably no more than 5 animals

According to World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Armenia, there are just 3 – 5 individuals recorded in Armenia (some of them are migratory). Each leopard needs habitat of some 44,500 – 60,000 acres (18,000 – 25,000 hectares), and their populations have been decimated by hunting and poaching, and degradation of habitat caused by livestock grazing, plant gathering and deforestation.

The Caucasian Leopard has only been photographed in the wild in Armenia on two occasions, in 2005 and 2007. Those leopards had entered Armenia from Iran in territory much further south of the CWR.

The leopard’s stronghold within Armenia is the rugged and cliffy landscape of Khosrov State Reserve and surrounds. The Caucasus Wildlife Refuge is located on land adjoining the Khosrov State Reserve, south-east of the capital Yerevan on the south-western slopes of the Geghama mountains.

Donate to Save the Caucasian Leopard

WLT is currently raising funds to lease land to extend the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge (CWR) and to improve monitoring and protection measures within CWR. With this protection in place we feel sure that in the future there will be more camera-trip images of leopards (hopefully with cubs!)

Please help the Caucasian Leopard survive by making a donation to the appeal.

Oldest Dutchman’s, Armenian’s, birthday


This music video is called Stevie Wonder – Happy Birthday.

Translated from Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad, Sunday 30 June 2013:

The oldest man in the Netherlands celebrates his birthday this Monday. Amersfoort man Serop Mirzoyan will then become 107 years old. He will celebrate his birthday with his family and friends and Mayor Lucas Bolsius will visit this Monday, says his daughter.

Mirzoyan is Armenian and was born in Diyarbakir in Turkey in 1906. Later he lived in Iraq, where he worked as a farmer. In 1996 he came to the Netherlands. He only knew the year of his birth and the birth date July 1 was chosen for him.

This elderly man is well. He still lives at home with his daughter. He is not the oldest Dutch person. The oldest Dutch person is a woman. Egbertje Leutscher-De Vries from Havelte (Drenthe) is 110 years old.

Happy birthday!

Armenian brown bear camera trap discovery


This video says about itself:

22 mei 2013

Camera trap footage of a Syrian Brown Bear (Ursus arctos syriacus) in the Caucasus Wildlife refuge, Armenia.

Camera trap footage © FPWC

From Wildlife Extra about this:

Camera-trap records subspecies of Brown bear in Armenia

Editor’s note

The bear doesn’t seem too happy with in the prescence of the camera trap. Is this because the camera makes a noise when recording, or perhaps from the smell?

Just 150 bears in Armenia

May 2013. Recent camera-trap footage from the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge has recorded a Syrian Brown Bear and highlights the importance of camera-traps for monitoring wildlife and informing conservation strategies.

A camera-trap has recently captured rare footage of a Syrian Brown Bear (Ursus arctos syriacus), a subspecies of Brown Bear native to Eurasia. This is an important recording as there may be just one or two bears in the reserve and the Red Data Book of Armenia lists them as vulnerable.

Bears in Armenia

The bears inhabit the south-eastern part of Armenia, particularly in Meghri, Kapan, Goris, Sisian, Vayk, and Yeghegnadzor regions. They have been known to range as far as the hill foots of Mt Aragats, and up to elevations of 3,000m above sea level.

The Syrian Brown Bear’s typical habitat is arid sparse forest, broadleaf forests, mountain grass lands, subalpine and alpine meadows. Availability of fruits, berries and nuts is an important influence on their distribution.

Possibly 150 bears in the wild

There are thought to be some 150 bears in the wild. The exact population is unknown – and likely to be declining due to poaching, habitat destruction and diminishing sources of food in the wild.

Threats

Agriculture, mining and quarrying are some of the reasons for habitat destruction, and bears damaging bee hives and orchards is the main cause of conflict with local farmers.

FPWC Program Director Barbara Siebert comments: “As bears look for food on farms there is often conflict with humans. This is why the CWR is so important because we provide an area free from conflict for wildlife such as bears. We also plant wild fruit and nut trees to encourage bears to use the protected area rather than farmland.”

Data for monitoring

FPWC uses camera-trap images to assess population numbers of wildlife. Footage of Bezoar Goats, for example, demonstrates herd sizes, which areas of the reserve the goats are using, and how frequently. Numbers are compared year on year, and show populations are increasing.

Images of injured animals may indicate poaching, and will prompt greater security in a particular area.

Cameras donated by World Land Trust (ProStalk, PC8000 8 mega Pixel) are purchased from Hawke Optics who supply them at trade price for use by WLT programme partners. The cameras are transported to Armenia by friends of FPWC travelling from the UK, and WLT staff on field trips.

Leopards

Thanks to funds raised from WLT’s Caucasian Leopard appeal, WLT is supporting the lease of 2,718 acres (1,100 hectares) to expand the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge and other activities to protect habitat not only for the Caucasian Leopard but also for its prey species and the other threatened Caucasian endemics found here. You can help protect the wildlife and biodiversity of the South Caucasus by donating to WLT’s Caucasian Leopard appeal.

Thanks to funds from World Land Trust (WLT), there are now nine camera-traps in the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge (CWR). Both CWR and the cameras are managed by WLT’s conservation partner in Armenia, Foundation for Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC).

Leopard spotted in Azerbaijan


Young female leopard photographed in Azerbaijan. Phopto credit WWF

From Wildlife Extra:

Young female leopard spotted in Azerbaijan

Leopard photographed in Azerbaijan just weeks after being confirmed in Armenia

March 2013. Leopards are one of the rarest species in the Caucasus; one has been recently spotted by WWF‘s camera traps in the Zangezur National Park in Azerbaijan. This sighting comes just a few weeks after leopards were confirmed in Armenia for the first time in a decade.

Leopards have not been seen in the area for many years, making this recent sighting a local sensation. The young female that was photographed seems to be resident in this region, leaving strong hopes that, with a bit of luck, the population of the Leopard will gradually re-populate Caucasus and once again become the apex predator, as it was many years ago.

Over the past 10 years WWF, in partnership with IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group, together with National Governments, NGOs and experts from the region, has undertaken considerable efforts to assess the status of the Caucasian (Persian) Leopard and develop approaches for its conservation.

During initial phase of the project implementation important positive results on the ground were achieved. Recently, National Action Plans for Leopard conservation were adopted by local governments of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia based on Regional Strategy developed earlier, elevating leopard protection to the national priority level.

Leopard is the flagship species of the Caucasus Ecoregion and at the same time globally priority species for WWF

Monitoring of this species is part of the National Action Plan for Leopard Conservation, implemented by WWF in cooperation with the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan. WWF monitoring process (especially camera-trapping of the leopard and hundreds of its prey and competitive species) was made possible through the support and active involvement of scientists from the Institute of Bioresources of Nakhchyvan Branch of National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan under the supervision of Professor Tariel Talibov.

Armenian leopards update


This video from Armenia is called Bezoar Goats, Caucasus Wildlife Refuge.

From Wildlife Extra:

Endangered Caucasian leopard confirmed in Armenia

Leopards clinging on in the Caucasus

February 2013. … Conservation workers’ efforts to preserve habitat for the endangered Caucasian Leopard in Armenia have been boosted by confirmation of the leopard’s presence in a protected area.

Staff of the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem have run a series of genetic tests on samples of fur and faeces found in an area managed for conservation by Armenian NGO, the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC). In the past few days, the zoo has confirmed that the samples are indeed from a rare Caucasian Leopard.

The news from Jerusalem Zoo confirms what FPWC field experts have believed but so far have been unable to prove. Ruben Khachatryan, Director of Yerevan Zoo, and founder of FPWC describes the scientific proof as highly important: “It demonstrates beyond any doubt that this majestic but unfortunately highly endangered predator still dwells in Armenia and that our efforts to protect its habitat are not in vain.”

Mary Tibbett, Conservation Programmes Officer at World Land Trust (WLT), which is supporting FPWC’s work, adds: “This finding is a great boost to conservation efforts in Armenia. Although possibly reduced to as few as 15 animals in Armenia, the Caucasian Leopard subspecies is resilient and we believe it can be saved. But if it is to prosper in the wild, we need to see better research and monitoring, improved protection for habitat, and tougher action against hunters and poachers. If we do not take steps now, it may be too late.

“FPWC are doing a tremendous job in this challenging environment and I urge anyone who cares about conservation to help secure the future of this magnificent creature by donating to WLT’s Caucasian Leopard Special Appeal, which is running until the end of April.”

FPWC’s rangers have increased the number of Bezoar Ibex in the area by reducing hunting, this increase in prey is critical to the survival of Caucasian Leopard.

“The confirmed presence of the leopard shows that the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge is increasingly becoming a safe haven for flora and fauna,” adds Marc Hoogeslag, IUCN Netherland’s Small Grants Coordinator for the Purchase of Nature Programme. “For top predators such as the Caucasian Leopard, the reserve is an attractive habitat because it shelters populations of prey species such as the Bezoar Goat.”

Largest leopard

The Caucasian Leopard is the largest sub species of leopard. It ranges across several different countries including Iran, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Georgia. In recent years, their population has been devastated by uncontrolled hunting and habitat destruction.

Iran & Azerbaijan

“Leopards don’t know borders,” explains Ruben. “Their migration routes cover not only a corridor through Armenia but also reach out in particular to Iran and Azerbaijan. Much more field exploration is necessary to map and understand this regional leopard corridor.”

FPWC is working to strengthen regional cross-border cooperation in order to form a leopard coalition uniting relevant NGOs and governmental institutions in all countries of the South Caucasus.

According to Ruben: “The involvement of international partners such as World Land Trust and IUCN NL is of vital importance for this process in the South Caucasus as they can foster cross-border dialogue and cooperation even where official contacts are difficult. “

International charity World Land Trust (WLT) was formed in 1989 to acquire threatened land of high biodiversity value for the purposes of nature conservation. WLT’s Patrons are Sir David Attenborough, David Gower and Chris Packham.

WLT has been supporting FPWC’s work since 2010, and has recently funded the extension of FPWC’s Caucasus Wildlife Refuge and the employment of rangers to protect the site.

The first hints of a leopard in the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge (CWR) date from spring 2012, when rangers found foot prints in the snow. These were later identified by FPWC experts as typical for a big cat – most probably a leopard.

The first indication of the presence of a leopard in the Wildlife Refuge needed more thorough exploration. In the summer of 2012, FPWC field experts started a systematic investigation of all areas of the refuge considered ‘leopard friendly’. During these excursions they collected scat and pieces of fur the animal had most probably lost while passing thorny shrubs. Though the experts were sure that the samples came from a leopard, final confirmation could only be proved by genetic analysis.

The Caucasus Wildlife Refuge offers excellent habitat for this rare predator. Due to recent measures to prevent hunting, populations of prey species such as Bezoar Goats have increased tremendously so there is plenty of potential leopard prey.

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